24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
– Ephesians 4:24-26
Paul is encouraging the church to grow in Christian maturity and grace.
One sign of that new maturity, that new balance, that new person is that a person learns to deal with his/her anger properly.
In the old life, the sinful, unbelieving life, anger was dealt with and used in a variety of ways:
- A vent to spew out our frustrations
- An excuse for violence or unreasonable conduct (I was angry so I…)
- A way to intimidate or manipulate others (…don’t get him mad…)
When one becomes a Christian however, the old man of sin dies is buried in the water of baptism and a new man emerges. And this new man emerges with new ways of thinking and new ways of acting. In this passage, Paul mentions the new way of dealing with a natural human emotion – anger.
Why Deal With Anger?
Note that Paul doesn’t say, “Don’t be angry anymore”, or “Anger is a sin”? Notice that he doesn’t say to deal with the cause, with the one provoking the anger (that is not always possible, practical, safe). He encourages the brethren to deal with the anger itself before the day is out.
We can’t always deal with or eliminate the cause of our anger, but we always have access to the anger itself. Paul says deal with the emotion right away. The reason for this is that if we don’t deal with our anger right away, we allow Satan a take hold in our lives, and he can transform the raw emotion of anger (which is not sinful) into something which is (jealousy, resentment, revenge, hatred, etc.). IE – Cain was angry but didn’t deal with it right away. Satan transformed this anger into a jealous rage which led to murder.
Anger is a natural emotion, it’s like a surplus of emotion we feel when we are afraid, offended, embarrassed, or disappointed (or when many emotions come at once) anger is the natural signal that tells us that we are experiencing an emotional power surge.
How to Deal with It. Paul only tells us not to let the day go by without dealing with it. How do we do that in practical terms?
Acknowledge Your Anger.
Many times we’re going around angry, and we don’t realize that we are. In vs. 25 Paul says that we must speak the truth. Sometimes that involves being honest with ourselves about how we really feel.
Clarify Your Anger.
In other words, try to define why you are angry and with whom or what, and if it is truly justified. Sometimes it’s not worth it; sometimes we’re angry over something that may not be true. Dealing with anger properly requires that we get it into perspective, put a name on it, describe a reason for our feelings. That doesn’t make the emotion go away but it helps us know where the emotion comes from. In the case of anger – arriving at the truth about it does help in setting you free from it.
Give Your Anger to God.
Our anger is usually caused by some injustice, unkindness, or adversity towards us. We get angry because it’s not fair, we’ve been hurt, or we feel helpless and victimized, or inconvenienced. We need to realize that “fixing” the problem or getting even doesn’t take care of our anger – only the Lord can soothe our bruised egos and broken hearts. The healing we require from the burning heat of anger only comes when we consciously give our burden, along with the anger caused by it, to the Lord in prayer and submission. Once you’ve understood what or who’s made you mad, you need to bring them or it to God before the sun goes down in order to avoid turning that anger into something else that will cause you to sin.
If you’re dealing with anger or if anger has caused you to sin, repent, and ask God to forgive you and begin to address with your anger instead of your enemy or problem. Realize also that God’s angry at you if you have not yet confessed Christ and been baptized or if you’ve been unfaithful to the Lord – He’s justifiably angry, and it’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.
If you need to be right with God, don’t let the sun go down on His anger.